Writing
Back After an Absence
July 21, 2017
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As I mentioned in a previous post, I have the tendency to ebb and flow with my interests. Writing, photography, filmmaking, etc. The thing is, I know this about myself and it’s something that I can’t stand about myself. I guess the positives from it mean that I get to experience many different things at a pretty high level (as I always do a deep dive in my interests until I burn out). But all I’ve ever wanted to do was be an expert at something and spend years doing one thing really well–or at least strive to excel.

How many blogs in various genre’s have I started and stopped? How many domain names have I registered only to let lapse a year later? The interest in writing faded and photography came back full force this past spring, now I’m back into writing again. I had even let this domain expire. Luckily, I saved a backup of this blog otherwise I would be starting all over again. I just have to find a way to stick with things even when my heart isn’t in it. If I can just bridge the gaps between interest, and treat writing like a job, then all will be right with the world. At least my world.

That being said, I’m now part way through writing a fantasy novella. This is my fourth go around with this story and this world. This time, I just want to get the first draft done and then spend a good deal of time editing. Right now, the plan is to make it a five-part series, all Novellas. I have five POV characters in this first one, which is a lot for a Novella, but I’m looking at them more like serials or TV episodes. Not sure if it will work or not, but that’s the grand plan at the moment.

Here’s to writing!

David

Book Review
Review: The Rift Uprising
March 7, 2017
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The Rift Uprising
The Rift Uprising by Amy S. Foster

I think I had different expectations when I picked up this book. I wasn’t expecting a YA novel. Once I got over that realization, however, I thought the story and plot were good, but the character development needed a little work. The best part of the novel was the idea of a rift that goes to multiple different Earths with varying points in evolution and the multiple paths taken by the different versions. The least interesting part of the story, or rather, the part of the story that needed a little more work was with the romance between Ryn and Ezra. There was just something too easy and simple about their instant attraction to each other. I guess I was looking for a little more drama. The setup of the conflict between ARC and the Citadels was very compelling and worth reading the book. I think Ms. Foster has left herself a wonderful opening for the next installment and I look forward to seeing where she takes the story from here. This was a light, easy read and I recommend it.

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Writing
Short Story: Buffalo Run
September 27, 2016
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buffalo-runFinally it is ready for release, my new short story titled “Buffalo Run.” It’s a story set in Yosemite Valley in a dystopian future (don’t worry, no teenagers!). The idea came while going through stream of consciousness exercises for my screenwriting class earlier in the year. The exercise started off by finding a picture in Pinterest and then setting a timer for ten minutes. At the start of the clock we were instructed to write using the picture as a starting point without stopping and without editing. It’s meant to develop the creative side of your brain. What flowed from a picture of half dome was a random story about two women running a marathon in Yosemite Valley amongst genetically modified buffalo that craved human flesh. It was not quite something I usually write about but the story stuck with me after the class was over and I decided to write it as a short story. I had it edited by Elisabeth Kaufman over at Writing Refinery and proofread by Jessica Nelson at Rare Bird Editing. I had my daughter illustrate the cover as I wanted a vector art type of look for it. I put it up at Amazon for $0.99. As a gift to my readers, I wanted to put up a complimentary pdf version here on the web site. I hope you enjoy it. If the mood strikes you, perhaps you could leave a review on Amazon?

Book Review
Review: The Crown Tower
September 16, 2016
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The Crown Tower
The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan

This has been the fantasy series I’ve been looking for. The characters are fun and well drawn out, the plot is not convoluted, and the writing flows easily. Having read a lot of epic fantasies lately, I really enjoyed reading a book that I could finish within a couple of weeks (and that’s mostly reading a chapter a night). But it’s length by no means counts against it’s quality or substance. Hadrian and Royce remind me of a middle-ages version of Redford and Newman. I understand that this is the first book in a prequel trilogy and the author explains the chronological order of his books in the forward. He basically said that you could read the original trilogy first and then come back to these books or just start in chronological order. I chose to start with the latter. I’m already almost halfway done with the second book in this series and I don’t anticipate stopping until I’ve read all six books. I highly recommend this novel for some serious fantasy fun.

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Writing
Writing Strong, Likable Female Characters is Tough
September 14, 2016
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David Mullin

I have grown up around strong women my entire life. My mother is and always was a firecracker, never afraid to speak her mind to any and all who got in her way. My sister was also strong but in a quieter way. She is one of the sweetest persons I’ve ever known but she still has strong convictions and stands up when pushed too far. My wife is also an incredibly strong, independent woman and we have raised my two daughters to never shy away from being themselves. So why is it when I write strong female protagonists that I can’t make them likable?

Earlier this year, I completed a screenplay with a strong female protagonist who lost her father and mother at birth and was raised by foster parents. It turned out her grandfather had declined to take custody of her and the story was about her journey to find her grandfather and the relationship that they then create. The universal feedback I received was that no one liked the main character. In the spring I wrote a short story about two women running for their lives from genetically modified killer buffalo (soon to be released on this site for free) and the feedback I received from beta readers was that they liked the story but didn’t like the main female character. WTF?

The answer is somewhat obvious but also is found in societal perceptions, in my opinion. The obvious part of the answer is that I’m a man, and no matter how many women I’ve been around my entire life, I’m still a male with a male ego and male perceptions of what’s strong and what’s weak. Another answer, separate from my two main points, is in the writing itself. In writing these strong female protagonists, I jumped right into them being aggressive, both verbally and physically, without showing the reason for the reader to be rooting for them in the first place. The societal point revolves around the often heard argument that a strong willed woman in the work place is called a bitch while a man exhibiting the exact same behavior is called aggressive. Man or woman, I think that perception is strongly ingrained in all of us. No matter how much we want there to be the same standard, I don’t think we’re quite there yet internally.

While I wrote my female protagonists to be swashbuckler types, having them act physically and verbally aggressive seems to put people off. When a male character is shown acting aggressively without any other information, most people just say, “Oh, what a typical guy.” But if I do the same with an aggressive female character, a lot of people would say, “Man, what a bitch.”

The problem with being male and writing a female is that we tend to think of strength in terms of fighting back in one way or another. We can overlook strength of fortitude or the greatest female strength, IMHO, of just pushing on through pain and sorrow without complaint. Those are types of strength stronger than any physical altercation and I need to remember that in my writing.

I’m not sure what the percentages are when it comes to which issue has the largest effect on the likability of my characters, be it the poor writing, the fact that I’m a man, or our society’s built-in gender perceptions, but something is wrong and I need to work on fixing it. Obviously, there have been great female protagonists written by men (i.e. Ripley in Aliens, Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, etc.), they just happen to be way better writer’s than I am at the moment. It’s been a frustrating but fascinating struggle and it will only serve to make me a better writer. Still, I hope that I can get across the characters that I see in my head. Characters with empathy and compassion toward others but who also don’t take shit from anyone and can take care of themselves and those they love.